Oblivion, staring Tom Cruise, is a good science fiction film. Strong plot, quality writing and directing, great acting, and enjoyable action scenes. I give it a B.
60 years after a war between humans and an alien group who invaded Earth, Jack Harper and his companion Victoria are working as the repair crew for Earth. Earth has been evacuated due to radiation poisoning (none of which you will ever see) and Jack works to repair drones that protect large scale power converters that turn sea water into energy through fusion.
The drones attack and are attacked by Scavengers, the remnants of the defeated army. And to top it all off Jack and Viki’s memories’ have been wiped just in case they are captured. But rather than just a film of Tom Cruise as a live action Wall-E, we all know from the trailers that this story isn’t quite the truth. No I’m not going to tell you what the truth is. But it all starts unraveling when Jack finds the survivors of a pre-invasion NASA expedition, one of whom he has seen in his dreams.
There are two problems with this film. The first is that after years of sci-fi movies like Inception, Minority Report, The Matrix, going all the way back to Blade Runner or even The Twilight Zone, we’ve gotten a little too accustomed to sci-fi movies making these deep philosophical statements about life, politics, ethics, metaphysics and existence. There is none of that here; there is only an enjoyable movie. This of course was not helped by an ad campaign which verged on hyping this as the greatest sci-fi movie.
Honestly with a poster like this you’d expect something far deeper for the movie. But, no, just a simple, enjoyable movie.
I’ll be honest I probably missed guessing the great revelation of the why Jack’s memory has been erased because I kept trying to find something far deeper and more complex than what it really was…no I’m not going to tell you what it is—just don’t expect anything all that original. The director stated that the film was an homage to 1970’s sci-fi films, and while it certainly is better written, directed, produced and acted than any sci-fi film from that era (maybe one or two exceptions). It’s a good film, just don’t expect the hype that all the trailers have been giving and the epic posters have been suggesting.
There is actually a very sad story between these two.
Cruise, is, as almost always, a spectacular actor in this film. The man may be certifiable in real life, but he is a good actor. His portrayal of Jack Harper has you empathizing with him almost immediately. From the first moments we see that he is clever, loyal, about being noble, and has some fairly decent taste in literature with the oft repeated line in the film:
Then out spake brave Horatius,
the Captain of the Gate:
“To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his Gods.”
—The Lays of Ancient Rome by Thomas Babington Macaulay
I will say this, the film does speak to the nobility in the human spirit, and much like many of the great classics of film it is not particularly complex but emotionally satisfying.
Overall it is a highly enjoyable film, and one that is greatly improved on the large screen so I would not just wait for the rental.